The Amazing Life Of Astronomer Johannes Kepler

By Grace Taylor
Illustration of a Johannes Kepler discussing his discoveries with Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. (Nastasic/Getty Images)

Johannes Kepler was one of the most influential scientists in history, with his work on the motions of planets serving as the basis for the entire field of Newtonian physics. Born on December 27, 1571 in present-day Germany, he faced struggles almost immediately in life, as he was born premature and contracted smallpox at a very young age, which left him generally weak for the rest of his childhood.

When he was only six years old, however, he witnessed the Great Comet of 1577, which inspired him to study astronomy later in his schooling. Eventually, he attended the University of Tübingen, where he focused on theology with the intention of working in the clergy but divided his time between math and science as well. When he grew up in Europe during the late 1500s, most people believed that the planets and Sun revolved around the Earth and moved in circles, but Kepler's tutor secretly taught the controversial works of Copernicus, who argued that planets that actually revolved around the Sun.